Curtains bring a lot of added charm and style to your interior décor. Hanging curtains requires a small bit of planning to ensure they look nice. Careful consideration should be given to curtain rod placement, curtain length and curtain width. In this short guide, you'll learn the basics of how to measure curtains for every window in your home.
Outside or Inside Mounting
Your first decision involves where to install the hardware. Curtains are mounted outside or inside the window frame. Outside mount is most common. Inside mount creates an alternative look that leaves more of the frame exposed. You may want to test out both mount techniques before installing hardware. Do this by holding one curtain panel against the frame, positioning it outside, and then inside.
You may notice that mounting curtains outside the frame makes the window appear larger. This mount style provides full sunlight blocking benefits when curtains are closed. Decorative finials on curtain rods are often more noticeable, enhancing the room's décor.
Alternatively, curtains mounted inside the frame create a minimalist look, but don't expect full light blocking. For this method, basic rods will do just fine. Typically, curtain rods remain hidden from view. Both mounting techniques ensure privacy from the outside world.
Window Design Style Preference
Have fun choosing a curtain design before moving on to actual measuring. Depending on your personal preference, you can go with a straight-forward design or something more dramatic. Window dressing styles include conventional, floating, streamlined, kissing and pooling. Knowing up front how you want to style curtains can help you evaluate if the measurements work for what you're trying to achieve.
Conventional. This is the traditional outside-mount curtain design. Rod finials are visible at both ends and curtains fall somewhere below the frame. It's a straight-forward look that requires no extra effort once basic measuring is done.
Floating. This trendy design creates a "floating" look for curtain bottoms. Achieving it involves some precision placement on your part. Curtain bottoms should end at about 1 inch above the floor surface. You may want to measure and mark two points on the wall before installation. The nice thing about this style is that it makes windows appear more elongated. It's also a great way to show off drapes with bold patterns.
Streamlined. Choose this style when you want to give your windows a contemporary look. Curtains are mounted inside the frame, and their length offers just enough coverage for window panes. Precise measurements are needed to pull this off successfully.
Kissing. Just like the name implies, this design has curtain bottoms "kissing" the floor. In other words, curtain bottoms barely touch the surface. You'll need curtains with enough length to mount them at least a full 6 inches above the top of the frame. There's double measuring involved, but it's worth it. Kissing makes a window appear longer in length.
Pooling. Add a touch of luxury to your windows with this elegant style. Install hardware a few inches below the ceiling. Hang curtains and allow bottoms to gently pool on the floor. Lightweight curtains give you the most dramatic effect. Unfortunately, pooling doesn't work well for curtains made from stiff materials.
How to Measure Curtain Length
Curtains come in specific lengths determined by manufacturers. When people refer to measuring length, they usually mean windows. The reason for measuring window length is to avoid being disappointed by curtains that are too short. For outside mount, begin by placing the tip of the measuring tape at the very top of the window frame. The end measuring point can be one of several options: inside bottom of window sill, between 1 and 3 inches below the sill or all the way to the floor. If you're placing the curtain rod in an alternative position, measure from where you want the rod to go.
How to Measure Curtain Width
This step involves measuring the window's installed curtain track or rod. If none exists, visualize where you want the hardware to be and proceed with measuring. Place the measuring tape at one end and go all the way across to the other end. If measuring a rod, be sure to include finials. Next, add between 1 1/2-inch to 3 inches of extra width to account for curtain type.
- Tab Top Curtains - add one and a half times the width
- Eyelet and Pencil Pleat Curtains - add two times the width
When purchasing rods, you can use width calculations to help you select the best sizes for different windows.
Decide Where to Place Curtain Rods
Now it's time to decide where to place the rod. You can place it above the window frame, below the frame or inside the frame.
Above the frame. This placement is best for long curtains that hang to the floor. Mount installation usually ranges between 6 inches and 12 inches above the frame's top. Space varies, and you may need to make an adjustment to fit the curtain into whatever space is available. That's not usually a problem when you have up to 20 inches of extra wall space.
Below the frame. Show off ornate molding with this chic mount choice. Select a curtain rod that extends at least 3 to 4 inches beyond the window's length.
Inside the frame. Effortlessly create the streamlined style. Protective rod ends should fit nice and snug.